Thursday, February 28, 2013

"The Elephant Keepers' Children" By Peter Hoeg

The Elephant Keepers' Children is supposed to be a zany romp with quirky characters through Denmark and a little island called Fino.  It's narrated by Peter, the beleaguered son of Fino's pastor and organist. When Peter and his sister Tilte, a magnetic and philosophical character, discover their parents may be orchestrating a heist at an upcoming religious convention, they begin on an insane and roundabout journey to stop them.

There's a blurb on the back cover that compares Elephant Keepers' Children to Slaughterhouse-Five, and though I get where the person is trying to make the connection between Hoeg and Vonnegut, there's just no comparison. Vonnegut, at his best, is funny and weird but purposeful. Hoeg's writing feels random for the sake of being random. The book flies through zany situation after zany situation, to the point where I often failed to understand what was happening and why. The characters are absurd without humor, with horrific names like Alexander Flounderblood or Leonora Ticklepalate. Maybe the jokes carried over better in the original Danish.

Tilte and Peter are unbelievable and boring, as are Peter's frequent asides to the reader in which he discusses finding the "door" out of our own "prison" or something. I never really cared. The novel is told in a conversational, casual tone with the reader, with frequent tangents and rambling anecdotes.

I read a good chunk at first and so felt the need to finish the book, but I should have left it at a "did not finish."

1 comment:

  1. Too bad you didn't like it. That's the book my dad's reading right now - so I've been curious to see if it's any good.